“Talking about race is not race-baiting,” my colleague Mike McFeely wrote in a column over the weekend.
His column was a defense of President Barack Obama who has been accused, by some, of race baiting. I agree with McFeely that President Obama is not race baiting. He is not making statements about race with the purpose of offending and dividing.
Unfortunately, his handling of race issues is dividing us anyway, because he’s doing a poor job of it.
For instance, take his comments from Poland in the wake of the murders perpetrated against Dallas law enforcement officers:
Mr. Obama made the comment at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, where he also issued another call for gun control in the wake of the Dallas shootings.
“I think it’s very hard to untangle the motives of this shooter,” Mr. Obama said of the gunman, Micah X. Johnson. “By definition if you shoot people who pose no threat to you, you have a troubled mind.”
It’s hard to untangle the motives of a shooter who had a history of interest in racist black power groups and literally told cops, before he died, that he wanted to kill white people?
Say what you want about President Obama, but he’s not a stupid man. I don’t think it’s hard at all for him to understand the clear motives Johnson’s murderous attacks. He’s just ignoring them, choosing instead to shift the debate over the murderous spree in Dallas in a direction more advantageous for his politics.
Namely, gun control, among other things.
Is it any surprise that this sort of crass maneuvering is maddening? At a moment when America needed their national leader to say something unifying Obama instead made a political play.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]We talk very often about America needing to “have a conversation” about race issues, even though it often seems as though we talk about little else. But conversations are a two-way street. You listen as well as talk.[/mks_pullquote]
That’s not race baiting, but it’s certainly divisive. Keep in mind that Obama also feigned confusion over the motives of the Muslim husband and wife team who murdered 14 people at a facility for developmentally disabled adults in California. When 50 people were killed at an Orlando nightclub, Obama again glossed over the obvious motivation – Islamic extremism – and again started talking about gun control and not the threats posed by Islamic extremism.
Because one of those things fits his preferred political narratives better than the other.
Back to the present, President Obama was also quick to defend the #BlackLivesMatter protesters after the Dallas murders, and while that’s fair to a point (there is no evidence that the protest organizers had anything to do with Johnson and his attack), there is no question that movement is guilty of violence against both law enforcement and the public in general. Protests in Minnesota over the weekend saw 102 arrests, and 21 law enforcement officers injured, “after protesters pelted police officers with rocks, rebar and incendiary devices, including Molotov cocktails.”
That was fantastically unfair of our president, and given his defense of the BLM movement, an obvious double standard.
It’s that sort of thing which divides us.
We talk very often about America needing to “have a conversation” about race issues, even though it often seems as though we talk about little else. But conversations are a two-way street. You listen as well as talk.
If it’s true that white Americans need to listen and understand the plight of blacks and other racial minorities in our country, then it’s also true that the understanding needs to go the other way too.
We need to understand why the “black lives matter” slogan is offensive to some. We need to understand why talking about gun control after an anti-white racist murders a bunch of cops is frustrating.
It doesn’t seem as though Obama, and many others on the political left, are interested in having that conversation.